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Thoughts Regarding the Potential Fallout in the United States with the Death of Osama bin Laden [51]

Updated on June 5, 2016

Terrorism Incarnate

Osama bin Ladin
Osama bin Ladin | Source

Osama Has Died, Long Die Osama

WOW! What a surprise! America has brought down Osama bin Laden, finally! It seems that President Obama's revitalization of the Hunt for bin Laden in the CIA, which had gone somewhat dormant in the last years of the Bush administration, paid off ... big time. Apparently we got a break and then spent a year exploiting it, patiently planning, preparing, and waiting until the right time to bring bin Laden to justice.

Besides cutting off the spiritual head of terrorism around the world and of al Qaeda specifically, there is potentially a lot of fallout, mostly good, that should result from this one action. But, before I go there, I must spend a little time talking about the extremely disappointing response from the Conservatives.

To do that, I need to lay out a little bit of history. President Bush's initial response to the 9/11 attack was right on target. He immediately went after the enemy where they lived, Afghanistan, and was immensely successful; the al Qaeda compounds were destroyed and both al Qaeda and their Taliban protectors were driven out of power and then out of Afghanistan. He went after al Qaeda's financial empire taking away easy access to funding and after that, al Qaeda proper, quickly dismantling the leadership and infrastructure to a surprising degree. Then something went terribly wrong, President Bush lost the bubble; he took his eye off the ball.

For what ever reason, US forces lost their coordination, didn't seem very coherent. In the end, the result was Osama bin Laden slipping through our finger in Tora Bora. What was worse though was President Bush turned his, his national security team, and the nations attention away from the real war and toward Saddam Hussein. He committed one of the most fundamental errors in military strategy that all military officers know you should never do ... voluntarily spitting your forces. One of the best known examples of the folly of doing is what is now known as Custard's Last Stand. Although only a few of us outside the military knew it, this decision to enter a war with Iraq while in the middle of an unfinished war in Afghanistan, some might call it hubris, was the death knell to a successful war on terrorism.

Following this the Bush administration did everything it could to prevent the organization of the National Security apparatus that finally was responsible for catching and killing Osama bin Laden. For example, the Bush administration:

  • initially opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in November 2002.
  • initially opposed the creation of the Director of National Intelligence in December 2004. Compromises with the Conservatives led to a less than robust and effective organization.
  • was somewhat lackluster implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations that were the responsibility of the Executive Branch
  • underfunded a broad spectrum of the 9/11 Commission recommendations that were implemented, most notably the integration and interoperability of the communication systems between emergency response and intelligence agencies.
  • underfunded implementation of security measures safeguarding transportation modes and ports other than airports.
  • reduced the effort to locate and capture Osama bin Ladin.
  • the list goes on.

This isn't to say President Bush was totally remiss in his pursuit of bin Laden, he wasn't, but, because he diverted his attention to Iraq, he did lose sustained focus.  What he did do was set up the apparatusthat ultimately was successful in tracking bin Laden down.  Further, it was under President Bush's watch that the initial break came to light and intelligence analysts finally were able to start putting the pieces together.

Conservative Response to the News

BY-AND-LARGE, the Conservative response was muted or totally missing when it came to giving President Obama any credit for this stupendous accomplishments.  Exceptions to this were statesment made by former President Bush, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Newt Gingrich, First, before I present the quotes, I have to praise Newt Gingrich's response, as much as I hate to say it.  It floored me, happily, and, in my opinion, was by far the best response I have heard to-date!


“This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message:  No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”


This is terrific news for freedom and justice. In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice — and we did. I want to congratulate America’s armed forces and President Obama for a job well done. Let history show that the perseverance of the US military and the American people never wavered. America will never shrink from the fight and ultimately those who seek to harm us face only defeat. Today, justice is done, but the fight against radical Islamic terrorism is not yet over.


“The killing of Osama bin Laden is a significant victory in the long struggle between radical Islamists and modern civilization.

“This victory is a tribute to the patient endurance of American justice. I commend both President George W. Bush who led the campaign against our enemies through seven long years and President Obama who continued and intensified the campaign in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We should remember to thank those who made this possible. Without the courage and professionalism of our men and women in uniform and in the intelligence services, this victory would not have been achieved.

“This victory is only a milestone in a long war. We must also recognize the long struggle ahead. Radical Islamism did not start with bin Laden and it will not end with his death. This is the 32nd year since the Iranian dictatorship seized our diplomats illegally and held them hostage for 444 days. It has been 28 years since Iranian-supported terrorists killed 241 servicemen in Beirut in 1983.

“As long as there are schools teaching children to hate; as long as there are state-supported terrorist systems; as long as several countries actively recruit children to be suicide bombers; this war will continue.

“The world is a better place without Osama bin Laden, but his just demise cannot erase the loss and suffering of the families and friends of those who died on September 11 or died fighting in the war since September 11. So while we are celebrating this victory, we should take time to remember all who suffered and sacrificed and pray for them.”

Those who were less forthcoming:

Gov. Mitt Romney:

"This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden's many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist."

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney: 

"At this moment when bin Laden has been brought to justice, we especially remember the sacrifice of the young Americans who've paid the ultimate price in defense of the nation, as well as the nearly 3000 Americans who lost their lives on 9/11, I also want to congratulate President Obama and the members of his national security team."

Rep. Michele Bachmann:

"I want to express my deepest gratitude to the men and women of the U.S. military and intelligence community. Their persistence and dedicated service has yielded success in a mission that has gripped our nation since the terrible events of 9/11."

Former Gov. Palin on twitter:

"Thank you, American men and women in uniform. You are America's finest and we are all so proud. Thank you for fighting against terrorism."

And then there was pillars of intelligence, wisdom, and an open mind, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh (note to reader - of course you must realize that my last statement doesn't quite live up to the standard set in irony andsarcasm in Limbaugh's praise)

Ann Coulter (who was speaking about speaking about the release of pictures of bin Laden's body):

" ... Since Obama ordered the decisive killing of bin Laden, all his moves have been pretty awful and, basically, failures. Who could forget the classic appeasement of all the good, old Muslims the world over by burying the terrorist at sea less than 24 hours after he was killed? Or how about the other butt-kissing move that some of his administration members recently committed, where they actually praised Pakistan for “helping” locate bin Laden?! It’s just the opposite: Pakistan obviously sheltered bin Laden while getting billions of US foreign aid. Now, the politically correct and scared-of-Arab-reaction decision of his not to release the photo is another tactical screw-up, to say the least. What president in his right mind would actually refuse to perform an action that would have the effect of increasing the likelihood that the country’s enemies would start to fear or respect it a bit? Obama…that’s who!

Rush Limbaugh (who later couldn't stop laughing on his program when he found out people were taking his statement seriously!):

"We need to open the program today by congratulating President Obama,.  President Obama has done something extremely effective, and when he does, this needs to be pointed out.

"The effectiveness, came from President Obama's decision to send a Special Forces team to kill bin Laden--something he said, citing news reports, that none of the president's military advisers had thought of doing.

"Our military wanted to go in there and just scorch the earth...but President Obama single-handedly understood what was at stake here. He alone understood the need to get DNA to prove the was President Obama single-handedly and alone who came up with the strategy that brought about the effective assassination of Osama bin Laden,thank God for President Obama."

For what it was worth.

Thoughts About bin Laden's Death on the War on Terrorism

Will Osama bin Laden's death by American hands have an impact the war on terrorism? Common sense dictates an answer of "Almost Certainly". It stands to reason that Osama bin Laden was seen as the next best thing to Mohammad in the eyes of Muslim terrorists and those who support them after rising to fame from his actions in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, his successful leadership of al Queda, the funding of world-wide terrorism, his success in attacking America's embassy and warship, the USS Cole, and finally his attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. Bin Laden was a master in organizing, in proselytizing, and in strategic planning; bin Laden simply had no peer in the world of terrorism.

After the 9/11 attack, bin Laden established himself as the leader, both spiritual and operational, in world terrorism by being the first to successfully bring the war to American shores; a feat never before achieved in any significant way by any other terrorist or terrorist group! Bin Laden's imagine might have been somewhat tarnished by being chased out Afghanistan after the American and Afghan opposition dismantled the government of his protectors, the Taliban, if it wasn't for the way the American and Afghan forces let him escape in Tora Bora; Osama bin Laden was invincible!

Bin Laden's indefatigable spirit and determination infused terrorist all over the world with a sense that they couldn't lose; America was vulnerable; America can be defeated; bin Laden, on the other hand, could not be defeated. Then, on May 1, 2011, all that changed for America had roared! In an extremely well executed attack on bin Laden's hiding place, which was found from a masterful, determined, never tiring intelligence effort, Osama bin Laden was, after 10 long years, brought to justice.

The killing of bin Laden has to be as traumatic, disorienting, and demoralizing on terrorist around the world as the attack on America, accompanied by the loss of over 3000 lives and the collapse of the World Trade Center, was to Americans. While America had the cohesion, the spirit, the infrastructure, and the leadership to pull itself together and mount a counter-offensive, which changed the nature and character of al Queda forever, terrorists around the world, but especially in the Middle East and Asia, do not have the same advantage. Because of the effectiveness of America and the civilized world's campaign against al Queda specifically, and terrorist organizations, in general, their ability to carry out their hateful, murderous agenda has been greatly diminished; but not destroyed. They morphed, they adapted, they changed their organizational structures which allowed them to continue to plan and fight. But one thing they didn't do was stop following their ultimate leader, Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden was still the guiding light and spiritual leader and still was directly involved with operations. He provided the symbol all terrorist could still rally around, to point to and say "he beat America once and because of him we can beat America again". His successful defiance of America provided the standard for all terrorists to follow; if he can't be killed, neither can we! But, now Osama bin Laden is dead.

Who do they look to now for America has killed their true God. Of course they are going to get their revenge, they will murder more innocent people, but I must believe the starch has been knocked out of them and that doubthas replaced it. The terrorists can no longer think of themselves as invincible, instead, they have to doubt, it must play on their minds that if America can bring bin Laden to justice, what can they do to me? Is Mullah Mohammed Omar thinking he is next? What does that do to his ability run his war against Afghanistan and America; what does it do to his ability to inspire his followers, to make them continue to believe in their cause? It makes sense to me that it must have been made orders of magnitude more difficult. Their efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan will not cease because of the death of bin Laden, they even may become more violent for awhile. But, I truly suspect they will become less effective; more of them will die, fewer replacements will be recruited, leaders will go further underground and be less able to command. Momentum will go to the good guys.

What about the death of bin Laden from the perspective of those fighting terrorism? Wouldn't you expect them to become more emboldened, more amenable to working with America and against the terrorists. How many tribal chiefs in Afghanistan will now come forward in support of Karsi and the American's that otherwise would not have? How many Taliban will now be turned in by the local citizens once that they know America means business (unless those Congressman which oppose our mission in Afghanistan are successful in getting the US to turn tail and run from the fight against those who truly want to destroy America)?

And how about the impact on the other avenues we use to fight, such as limiting financial resources, intelligence collecting, and propaganda? It is my belief that these have been significantly helped as well, now that the world knows America doesn't give up and is very serious, e.g., risking condemnation by killing bin Laden on foreign soil without their permission, in our determination to root out terrorism where ever it raises its ugly head. Only time will tell the extent of damage we wroght on Al Queda with the death of Osama bin Laden but common sense tells us it has to be a lot.

Thoughts About bin Laden's Death on American Politics

Will President Obama and the Democrats benefit from bin Laden's death? You betcha'! The successful operation into Pakistan is good for several different reasons.

  1. It shows that President Obama, in total contradiction to Conservative inspired public opinion, is very serious and successful in his war against terrorism
  2. It shows that President Obama can make the very tough decisions
  3. It shows that President Obama has the unique management and leadership skills needed to do something most previous presidents have failed to do, coordinate the efforts between powerful, competing organizations that normally try, it seems, to subvert the others

It is my opinion that this operation did damage to the Conservative's hopes of taking the presidency in 2012 because it removed one of the strongest, most resonating attack issues they had against Obama; his apparent lack of backbone when it comes to national defense. That notion has been completed dispelled in the public mind. Of course, to maintain this position, Obama will have to continue to pursue an aggressive campaign against the terrorists and not let the weak-kneed scare him out of Afghanistan before the job is properly completed.

The Conservatives have but one leg left to stand on, the economy/jobs. Here, they are clearly faltering as well, There are 18 months before the next election and ny most economist and business leader's opinions, the economy is well on its way to a reasonable recovery while the job numbers show the recovery is at a nearly self-sustainable level. If that comes to pass, and it is likely that it will, there will be no more legs for the Conservatives to stand on and will lose their bid for the highest office, even if they were able to field a strong candidate.

While President Obama's chances are greatly enhanced, in my opinion, to win reelection, I don't think his coattails will extend to the Democrats in Congress; mainly because Obama and Congress are on different sides of the foreign policy coin, for the most part. President Obama is going to be spending considerable political capital maintaining our operations in Afghanistan while many Democrats, and the public, will oppose him; for what I believe to be short-sighted reasons. That dynamic should cancel out any good will that might flow from President Obama's success in finding and killing Osama bin Laden.

Instead, I think Congress will turn on how the public perceives the Conservative and Democratic approach to solving our fiscal/economic problems. If the economy falters because the Conservatives remained true to their pledge of no compromise come hell or high water, it is my belief that they will forfeit control of the House and not gain control of the Senate. If, on the other hand, the Democrats cave and let the Conservatives have their way, they can kiss control of Congress good-bye and the country will have four more years of stalemate.

Thoughts About bin Laden's Death on Foreign Politics

Here, we need to look at it piece by piece so let's start with an easy one, Libya and Muammar Gaddafi. While I do think think bin Laden's death might embolden the opposition and give them hope that America might take a more positive and supportive role in their cause, I don't think it will have much effect on ol' Muammar. He is a megalomaniac. If I had to guess Gaddafi probably thinks bin Laden is a duffus for getting killed and that the Great Leader is nowhere near that stupid! No, I would say President Obama's success didn't phase Gaddafi.

How about Gaddafi's peer, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran? Same comment, it didn't mean a thing to him; he is too full of himself, too confident of his position, too self-assured, too arrogant. Likewise, I doubt that the opposition in Iran took much solice from America's success. I would think they are happy that such a definitive blow was struck against terrorism and oppression but realize that it doesn't translate very well to their situation.

Now let's look at the next tier down, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, and King, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. With these three countries, I think the dynamics are much different from the previous two. The leaders of Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain are much more grounded in reality than those of Libya and Iran and therefore must take President Obama's actions much more seriously. None should be worried about direct intervention by America, that would be the limit of it. Where prior to his actions in Pakistan, these leaders may have been relying on the Conservative propaganda regarding Obama's resolve to carry out an aggressive foreign policy, they must have quite a bit of doubt now. Just today, May 18, 2011, President Obama made his first public move against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by freezing his assets and imposing other sanctions; the same initial actions he used against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.


© 2011 Scott Belford


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